Litigation

NHLP is always on the look-out for opportunities to bring our expertise to bear in impact litigation, both in trial and appellate courts, on important matters relating to housing for low-income individuals and families.  This work includes cases strengthening or guarding the rights of tenants and low-income homeowners, advancing or defending protections against unfair discrimination in housing and housing-related services, preserving precious affordable housing stock, and other cases with the potential to significantly affect access to and quality of affordable housing for low-income persons. Hayes v. Harvey (3rd Circuit) defining “good cause” in an enhanced voucher case. McMahon v. JP Morgan Chase (9th Circuit) on the procedural protections in the California Homeowners Bill of Rights Bayview Plaza Tenants Association et al v. Bouma et al– (W.D. Wash.) Suit to enforce the use restrictions following the prepayment of a USDA loan McFalls et al v. Perdue, et al– (D. Or.) Challenging the prepayment of a USDA 515 loan and the legality of the agency’s regulation

Active Cases

Acosta v. Vilsack

Summary:

Action in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.  Challenges improper prepayment of Section 515 rural housing property, Northpark Apartments of Storm Lake, Iowa, which threatens low-income residents of its 24 subsidized dwelling units with rent increases, displacement, and homelessness.

NHLP staff: Gideon Anders, Marcos Segura, Kate Walz

Partners: Iowa Legal Aid (Alex Kornya, Ericka Petersen, Grant Beckwith)

Documents:

Arroyo v. Corelogic Rental Property Solutions, LLC

U.S. District Court – District of Connecticut Cause No. 3:18-cv-00705-VLB Filing Date: April 24, 2018 Claims: Fair Housing Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act Partners: Connecticut Fair Housing Center NHLP Role: Co-Counsel for Plaintiffs Documents:

de Reyes v. Waples Mobile Home Park

Amicus Brief in Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals case of de Reyes v. Waples Mobile Home Park challenging a mobile home park’s policy of requiring all residents to present proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status, contrary to the Fair Housing Act. NHLP’s brief shows how Congress could not have intended for the anti-harboring act (8 U.S.C. sec 1324) to require landlords to inquire into the citizenship or immigration status of every household member because Congress has authorized a number of federal housing and benefits programs that impose no immigration eligibility requirements and, in some cases, specifically allow mixed-status families (i.e., families with both U.S. citizens or eligible immigrants and household members without eligible status) to live together.

NHLP staff: Kate Walz, Natalie Maxwell, Eric Dunn

Flint Rising et al. v. Genesee Township

Complaint to the U.S. Dept. fo Housing & Urban Development on behalf of community organizations in a suburb of Flint, Michigan, that challenges the approval and development of a new asphalt plant that will release toxic emissions from a site within 1600 feet of existing public housing and a low-income, primarily Black neighborhood. Alleges violations of Title VI, the Fair Housing Act, and the Housing & Community Development Act. Partners include Earth Justice and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center.

Complaint

Yim v. City of Seattle

U.S. District Court – Western District of Washington Cause No. 2:18-cv-736-JCC Issue: constitutionality of Seattle’s “Fair Chance Ordinance,” which prohibits the denial of rental housing based on most criminal records. Partners: Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law NHLP Role: Amicus Curiae in support of City of Seattle Documents: Brief of Amicus Curiae

Ninth Circuit brief

Inactive Cases

Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles

Summary:

Action originally filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  Challenged Los Ángeles Ordinance No. 186585, which imposes a local moratorium on residential evictions motivated either by financial causes, minor lease violations, or without fault of the tenant in City of L.A.  The challengers failed to secure a preliminary injunction and appealed to Ninth Circuit, which affirmed.  Challengers have petitioned for certiorari to U.S. Supreme Court  but certiorari was denied at 142 S.Ct. 1699 (Mem), 212 L.Ed.2d 595 (Apr. 18, 2022). 

NHLP staff: Deborah Thrope, Eric Dunn

Documents:

Aswan Village Associates, LLC v. Opa Locka CDC, Inc.

Summary:

Action originally filed in Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County in Florida, concerning the right of a nonprofit community development corporation to exercise its federal statutory right of first refusal by which to retain complete long-term ownership and control of a low-income housing tax credit property.   Trial court ruled in favor of the community development corporation, and investors who sought to deny the CDC’s attempt to purchase the property appealed.  Florida Court of Appeals summarily affirmed.

NHLP staff: Marcos Segura

Documents:

Bayview Plaza Tenants Assn. v. Bouma

Summary:

Action filed in U.S. District Court for Western District of Washington, challenging the prepayment of two USDA Section 515 properties in Blaine, Washington.  The buildings included fifty-four units of senior/disabled housing, all with rental assistance—and the tenants were mostly very-low-income residents and nearly all elderly single women.  USDA approved the prepayment subject to use restrictions, but failed to notify tenants or enforce the restrictions them—including by allowing owner to raise rents and utility charges, decline lease renewals, and impose onerous new lease terms.  The tenants formed two tenant associations and sought representation from Northwest Justice Project to challenge the new leases and rent increases.  NJP partnered with NHLP (Gideon Anders) to file suit for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to enforce the use restrictions, enjoin the new leases and increased rents, and require USDA to comply with federal law in notifying tenants about future prepayments.

After entry of an agreed TRO, the parties reached a settlement that prevented rent increases and resulted in the return of both properties to the Section 515 program through 2032 (when the original loans had been scheduled to mature).  This preserved the affordable housing and rental assistance.  However, the court then found the remaining claims seeking to improve USDA practices nationwide to be moot.

Documents:

  • Order of dismissal (finding remaining claims against USDA moot)
  • Article by Kelly Owen and Scott Crain of Northwest Justice Project, “Rural Housing in the Crosshairs: How USDA Affordable Housing Is Targeted for Market Rate Conversion and What Advocates Can Do to Preserve It,” 30 J. of Affordable Hsg. 78 (2021) (discussing BPTA v. Bouma case extensively)

Boston Housing Authority v. Y.A.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Cause No. SJC-12623 Issues: (1) whether the Violence Against Women Act can be a defense to eviction from public housing for nonpayment of rent when a survivor’s failure to pay rent and arrearages was the direct result of a physically, emotionally, and financially abusive relationship; and (2) whether a public housing authority can lawfully require a survivor to obtain a restraining order against her abuser to avoid eviction from public housing. Partners: ACLU Women’s Rights Project, ACLU of Massachusetts, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law NHLP Role: Amicus Curiae in support of Y.A. Documents: Brief of amici curiae

Brown v. Azar

Coming Soon

Chambless Enterprises v. Walensky

Coming soon

Fletcher Properties et al. v. City of Minneapolis

Minnesota Court of Appeals Case No. A18-1271 Issue: constitutionality of Minneapolis Ordinance No. 2017-078, which prohibits discrimination housing based on the use of housing vouchers or other “public assistance” benefits to pay rent. Partners: Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Housing Justice Center NHLP Role: Amicus Curiae in support of City of Minneapolis Documents: Brief of Amicus Curiae

KC Tenants v. Byn

Coming Soon

Kontur v. Riverfront Apartments LP

U.S. District Court – Northern District of Ohio Cause No. 3:19-cv-00248 Filing Date: February 1, 2019 Claims: Declaratory Judgment Partners: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. NHLP Role: Co-Counsel for Plaintiffs Documents:

Matorin v. Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development

Coming Soon

Moore v. Johankneckt

Coming Soon

Moretalara v. Boston Housing Authority

Coming Soon

Senior Housing Assistance Group v. AmTax Holdings 260, LLC

U.S. District Court – Western District of Washington Cause No. 2:17-cv-01115-RSM Issue: whether the “special right of first refusal” the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit statute (at 26 U.S.C. § 42(i)(7)) gives non-profit housing providers to them a right to purchase those properties and thus maintain the long-term affordability of LIHTC properties. Partners: LeadingAge NHLP Role: Amicus Curiae in support of Senior Housing Assistance Group Documents: Proposed brief of amici curiae

Skyworks v. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Coming Soon

Terkel v. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Terkel v. CDC Judgment
Analysis/Legal Memorandum regarding a Texas federal court ruling that the CDC Order on Evictions is unconstitutional. The ruling is a declaratory judgment and only applies to the plaintiffs in the case. The CDC moratorium remains in effect for all other landlords and tenants. The Department of Justice has appealed the case. (March 1, 2021)  Brief responding to landlord’s motion in Columbus, Ohio case for for eviction judgment against covered tenant on grounds that CDC eviction halt order is unconstitutional. Discusses Terkel v. CDC case and other federal opinions regarding constitutionality of CDC order. Drafted by Kaci Philpot, Zach Bowerman, and Jyoshu Tsushima of Legal Aid Society of Columbus with supervision of Melissa Benson. (March 4, 2021)

Tiger Lily LLC v. HUD

Coming Soon

Yarbrough v. Decatur Housing Authority

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Cause No. 17-11500 Issue: In the Housing Choice Voucher program, HUD rules require a housing authority to prove the grounds for terminating a family’s assistance by a preponderance of evidence in a so-called “informal hearing” at the housing authority before assistance may be terminated.  The issue in this case, being heard en banc after a panel opinion in the tenant’s favor, is whether a family has a right to challenge a voucher termination in court if the PHA hearing officer upholds the termination even though the housing authority fails to prove that violation by the preponderance of evidence. NHLP Role: Amicus Curiae in support of Appellant Yarbrough Documents: